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Attention: If you’re a child who believes in Santa Claus, please ask your mother and father before reading further.

Our family was one who observed the Santa Claus tradition in full force, and as a child, I believed in Santa Claus with all my heart.

Yes, I was that kid on the playground arguing with others that Santa Claus is real, and I had the evidence to prove it.

After finding out the truth (much later in life than I care to admit), it devastated me and brought many tears. At the time, the only thought that would console me was, “At least the Easter Bunny is real.”

While there are variations of each approach, I find that parents today are divided into three main schools of thought regarding Santa, and I want to point out strengths and weaknesses of each approach, then let you decide.

Go all in. We know some Christian parents who see no harm whatsoever in teaching Santa is real. They go to great lengths to make the charade fun and believable. Some of these families never, even as adults, admit Santa is not real but continue playing along. Usually, these are just fun-loving families, who mean no harm. One shortfall of this approach is that it could possibly hamper or at least not help a child’s ability to believe in God. “If Santa is make-believe, then is what they tell me about Jesus real?” This may not often be the case, but it does happen.

Go partway in. I know some families who go through the Santa motions but make no secret of the fact that Santa is not real. The “Santa game” looks like giving gifts from Santa, going to see Santa at the mall, putting cookies out for Santa and the parents eating them, all while the kids know that “Santa is not really real, but God is.” These parents tend to tell their kids about the real Santa, referring to St. Nicholas and what he stood for. One shortfall of this middle ground approach, while trying to get the best of both worlds, you could end up getting the worst of the other approaches as well.

Don’t go there. I know some great families who are strongly opposed to doing the Santa tradition, for fear of lying to their kids or at least messing them up in some ways. I admire these parents commitment to the truth. The weakness here tends to be looking down on the other two approaches and harboring a hostile, almost impatient attitude of any other approach.

You could make biblical, practical and anecdotal arguments surrounding each one of these methods.

My point here is not to prop up one over the other. Instead, consider the strengths and setbacks of each, have patience with other people; and above all, make sure your kids know that the real reason for Christmas is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to seek and save sinners like you and me.

For He is better than any fun or gift a family could give or get.

P.S. Let me say thank you to my parents for loving me and working so hard to raise me in a godly home. Thanks Mom and Dad! You’re the best!